K.B.Nagar proves that charity begins at home
“Work from home is not an option for a huge set of informal communities in India. The 'isthiri anna' pressing clothes in a small 4-wheeled platform-cart in our street corner is one among them. The other visible quick-fix, but 'non-essential' facilitator for our daily life, is the mobile tailor sitting without a shop in our street footpath. We were seeing them almost daily. They have just vanished now. We don't know whether they will be able to survive this unending lock down!” states Janani, a resident of Kasturba Nagar, in the community fundraiser that she started.
Janani was also actively involved in the fundraiser of Zone 13, which served as an inspiration for her to do the same locally. Soon, she started a fundraiser through GiveIndia. But this time the aim was to raise funds for the daily wagers of Kasturba Nagar, in her locality, like the iron walas, flower vendors, cobblers and tailors etc.
“Many of these families have their businesses as a family unit, for example, the iron walas - the wife manages delivery of the clothes while the husband irons. So when the shop is closed, there is absolutely no financial support from either spouse. We also don’t know when they would be allowed to open their shop again,” explains Janani.
Parallely, a message was sent to the residents across Kasturba Nagar to collate the contact details of the daily wagers in Kasturba Nagar, in their street. Meanwhile, NGO Bhumi was also collecting details of these people pan India and offering them financial aid. Since Janani was one of their volunteers championing their fundraising cause, collecting the contact details served dual purposes.
The co-operative residents of Kasturba Nagar soon identified many more roadside vendors to be added to the existing list. Many requests also came in to include road-side workers from other areas of Adyar, Mandaveli, Mylapore, Velachery, OMR, Kalakshetra Colony, Taramani, Santhome, and Kottur. A total of 70 profiles were collected. Once the details were collected the contacts were cross checked and verified with their ID proofs.
While initially Janani aimed to collect Rs.2L, the bar kept rising as many pitched in to the cause. The donors not only included the residents but all those with ties to the locality. By the end of the fundraiser, the target was increased to Rs.5L and the amount fundraised was approximately Rs.5,20,000.
To add a personal touch to the fundraiser, residents also shared and recorded stories of how the daily wagers have touched their lives. Some also shared inspiring stories of their lives. The stories also brought the residents and the service providers closer. As the service providers came to know of the fundraiser, their happiness knew no bounds and profusely thanked the community.
While thanking the residents of Kasturba Nagar, Janani also invites all other communities to come forward and do the same or their own daily wagers who are struggling in this pandemic. Indeed, Kasturba Nagar has shown that ‘Charity begins at home’.